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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

'Bows have eye on postseason

By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer


Hawai'i at New Mexico State

4 p.m. Hawai‘i time

Live on 1420-AM

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University of Hawai'i women's basketball coach Jim Bolla apparently likes his postseason chances this season.

After finishing 11-15 last season, the Rainbow Wahine have engineered a turnaround and are 17-8 overall and 8-6 in the Western Athletic Conference.

Hawai'i — which has won six of its last seven games — finishes the WAC regular season at New Mexico State (8-18, 5-10) today and at No. 20 Louisiana Tech (21-4, 13-1) Saturday. Today's game starts at 4 p.m. Hawai'i time and Saturday's game starts at 3 p.m.

A postseason berth would be an accomplishment for the Rainbow Wahine, who have gone two consecutive seasons without one. In its last postseason appearance, Hawai'i lost to host Arizona State, 57-44, in the 2003 Women's National Invitation Tournament opening round. The WAC Tournament starts March 7 to 11 at Reno, Nev.

If Hawai'i wins the WAC Tournament, it earns the automatic berth to the 65-team NCAA Tournament. Hawai'i can also receive an invitation to the 40-team WNIT, a scenario that Bolla said could happen.

"I'm getting questions from people all over the place on that," said Bolla of Hawai'i's WNIT chances. "I would hope so. I think this team deserves it. I think we've got some quality wins over some good teams."

Hawai'i is ranked 96th in the latest Rating Percentage Index (RPI), a formula used by the NCAA women's basketball committee to supplement the selection of at-large teams and the seeding of all teams for the NCAA Tournament.

Bolla said Hawai'i's RPI got a boost with its win over Texas A&M (No. 25 RPI) this season. Hawai'i's seven road wins were also helpful, he said.

Last season, the WNIT strongly considered Hawai'i, and had UH finished with a .500 winning percentage or better, "we would have been invited," Bolla said.

"This year, we've done considerably better than that," he said.

Last season, three WAC teams were invited to the WNIT — Tulsa (19-11), Fresno State (20-11) and SMU (19-11), according to Kara Irving, WAC's Assistant Director of Media Relations.

Irving said Hawai'i has a good opportunity for the WNIT, a tournament that has expanded its field from 32 to 40 teams this season.

"Looking at the records of teams we had make it last year, and looking at an expanded field, you would think (Hawai'i) would have a pretty good chance," Irving said.

Reach Brandon Masuoka at bmasuoka@honoluluadvertiser.com.